We are sad to inform you that Fr. David Bingham mhm died peacefully at 8.00 on Saturday, 27th January. David’s sister-in-law Liz, and his nephew Tom, had left for home a short time before. During their visit, by the wonders of technology, other nephews and nieces of David, in Beijing, Sweden and elsewhere, were able to say their farewells to him. God rest his soul.
Tom O’Brien mhm
Fr David Francis Bingham
Mill Hill Missionary
May he rest in peace
David Bingham was born in Nakuru, Kenya on 7 April 1931 to Francis Dennis and Mary Bingham (née Kilkelly). The family was later blessed with one more son. David’s father served as an engineer in the Royal Navy, but after the Second World War, having become redundant, the family settled in Kenya where they took up farming. David followed secondary education with the Benedictines at Ampleforth from 1944 to 1949. He then did compulsory military service after which he went to study in Cambridge from 1951 to 1956 where he obtained a BA degree in History.
He then got a job with a shipping line in Singapore. His main task was to liaise between ship and shore. It was there that he made his first contacts with people from Malaysia who were among the personnel. In his memoirs about that time David wrote that through his contacts with the Church in Singapore his Catholic faith had been strengthened and the first stirrings of a vocation to the priesthood made themselves felt. Eventually David applied for admittance to the formation programme of the Mill Hill Missionaries. After a bridge-year in Osterley he entered the Mill Hill formation programme in Roosendaal for studies in Philosophy. In 1961 he entered St Joseph’s College, Mill Hill, for the study of Theology. On 1 May 1964 he took the Perpetual Oath and the following year, on 10 July, he was ordained priest in Westminster Cathedral by Cardinal Heenan.
He received an appointment to Malaysia, where he taught for two years in Sarikei followed by two years of mission work in Kanowit. He was transferred to Simangang in 1971 and served there for some five years. Subsequently David worked in the missions of Binatang, Julau, Sibu and Song. Altogether David spent forty six years working in the mission of Sarawak. He learnt the Iban language, reportedly with a pronounced English accent, as well as a little Hokkien (Chinese). In May 2005 David was appointed to the British Region where he took up APF work. In October 2014 he took up residence in our retirement home in Freshfield.
David’s great missionary zeal is reflected in reports from General Council members who had visited him in his various missions. In July 2001 he was awarded an OBE for more than forty five years of mission work in Malaysia. On the occasion of his golden jubilee as a priest in 2015 the General Superior wrote with much appreciation in his letter of congratulations: “The Lord gave you great energy, an enquiring mind and a good sense of humour. Your ability to move among people of all religions and cultures has surely enriched your life and promoted the Reign of God.”
Jesting and joking, often about himself, was typically part of a conversation with David. In a short autobiography he quotes a person who told him that all Mill Hill Missionaries were either bad or mad and some were both. David added: “I leave it to you (the reader) to decide into which category I fall!” We believe that the Lord of the Harvest will have a more uplifting verdict and grant his faithful servant the beatific vision.
The Funeral Mass for Fr David Bingham R.I. P. will take place on Saturday 3rd February at 11.00. a.m. in the Chapel of Herbert House, followed by burial in the Society graveyard nearby. David’s body will be received at Herbert House on Friday 2nd February at 4.30 p.m.